The Picture in Ireland
In the beginning was the bird on the hinge of spring,
and the misting flocks on the knoll’s wet chin
fled from the fox with his shot and gun. It was morning.
We sang up the sun with the Sunday hum-and-hymn
of Mam chiming down that patchwork land. Through
the nocturne town and far, past the blackthorn bowed to
prayer and vows that wilted in the air, the city threw
its lights on you. In the darkest heart of Belfast it was 1972.
That dawn of last and longest death, we woke the eyelid
of the day and laid the dark to rest. I remember, kid, the
blew like a passing breath and in that way it always did
the forest sang beneath your step. And in the sooner-far
the meadows fled away from where the dark things slept.
With Dad’s flat cap upon your head, coughing back a
whose end you never met, you ran a mile electric with
in your eyes. You drew the bows of playground boys while
the star that fell behind, shook and sweated lemons at the
of passing church. You never cared for that. You never
your hat. You laughed and cursed and spat the cleric’s
sermons to the last, and that was that. Always just good
But at the blast, beneath the drums of Carthage all the
unhinged and fled. And you, kid, who leapt the fire-heart
left only scraps of wind to gasp the passing of your death.
For in your last and loudest steps the decades fled
beneath your legs,
and past the chapel-arch ahead, a diadem upon your
you raised a weeping rag of red. You warned the living of
And said that prayer you’d never said, but it was lost
And in those gobbet-drops of flesh wept Our Lady
I waved and mouthed a broken vowel which you would
And saw you in the longest light, where you will always be.